Asymptomatic sufferers have increased SARS-CoV-2 viral hundreds than symptomatic sufferers, examine says
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to spread worldwide. To date, over 62.6 million infections and more than 1.45 million deaths have been registered worldwide.
Many studies have shown that asymptomatic carriers can spread the virus even if they don’t show symptoms such as fever and cough.
A surprising new study now shows that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients have a higher viral load than patients with symptoms.
A team of researchers wanted to assess the viral load of six different sample types from patients of different ages and in different clinics to determine the relationship between disease progression and SARS-CoV-2 viral load.
COVID-19 – a challenging disease
The coronavirus pandemic first appeared in Wuhan City, China, in late December 2019. From there it has expanded to over 191 countries and territories.
On January 7, 2020, the pathogen was identified in humans and named SARS-CoV-2. By March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
COVID-19 is a challenging disease. As the disease develops, new information emerges. For example, COVID-19 was first described as a respiratory infection. However, as the virus spread around the world, many patients showed other complications. SARS-CoV-2 infection also causes systemic inflammation and thrombosis.
Although some people have a serious illness, the majority of patients will only develop mild to moderate symptoms. In some cases, they show no symptoms at all. They are known as asymptomatic carriers and contribute to the widespread spread of the disease.
What the study found
The study, published in the Journal Infection, highlights the role of asymptomatic spread in the coronavirus pandemic.
To arrive at the study results, the researchers collected samples from the nasopharynx, oropharynx, oral cavity, rectal, saliva, urine, and blood from patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
A total of 360 samples were taken from 60 patients upon admission. Of these, 25 percent had no symptoms while 75 percent were symptomatic.
The Public Health Institute of Turkey, Virology Reference and Research Laboratory, analyzed the samples.
The researchers found that asymptomatic patients had higher vital stress levels compared to symptomatic patients. Furthermore, viral load had a negative trend with increasing age, while a significant decrease in viral load was observed with increasing disease severity.
“This study shows that asymptomatic patients have a higher SARS-CoV-2 viral load than symptomatic patients, and unlike the few studies in the literature, a significant decrease in viral load was observed with increasing disease severity,” the researchers wrote in the article.
The team found that factors associated with a poor prognosis, including bilateral opacity of the base lens on chest x-ray, low lymphocyte counts, and older age, correlate with low SARS-CoV-2 viral load.
“COVID-19 is an intricate puzzle with many colors and shapes. In addition, there is an urgent need for virological and immunological studies to put all the pieces together and see the big picture, ”the researchers added.
Asymptomatic patients have been known to spread the virus without even knowing they are infected. This makes it more difficult for countries to control the spread of the virus.
So far, some countries have reported second waves of infection. The United States reports over 13.35 million confirmed infections and more than 266,000 deaths.
Other countries with high numbers of cases include India with over 9.39 million cases, Brazil with more than 6.29 million cases, France with at least 2.27 million cases, and Russia with more than 2.24 million cases.
Mexico reports more than 1.1 million confirmed cases and a staggering 105,000 deaths related to the infection.
With the winter season approaching in the northern hemisphere, health experts warn that rising cases will be reported in the coming weeks. They strongly advise people to avoid crowds, keep your distance from others, wear masks, and practice regular hand hygiene.
Since many people do not have symptoms of the infection, it is important to be careful with others to prevent infection with the virus.